GI Joe: Retaliation – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

JoeGI Joe: Retaliation – 3.5/5 – I have been reviewing movies for quite some time; even before I started this new blog online.  In every review I give, what I try to do is provided a view that is a ‘grounded’ feeling of the film, regardless of who’s in it or what genre it is.  I take everything with a grain of salt, giving you a general scope of the film, seeing if it’s worth your time (and my time at that) and if you can be entertained.  In saying that, we have this film.  There always seems to be a consensus on what movie is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Sometimes, you have to go against the norm.  Granted, there isn’t anything of pizzazz or extravagance here, but GI Joe: Retaliation treats us with a ‘We know who we are’ mentality, and gives us a simple action-oriented popcorn flick.  Overall, this cast of Joes helps provide us that, there can be ‘simply dumb’ fun every now and then.

Premise: Framed for crimes against the country, the G.I. Joe team is terminated by the President’s order, who is actually Zartan in disguise.  With the GI Joe’s ‘gone’, Cobra Commander is freed, and there evil plans begin to take place.  The surviving team members face off against Cobra, as they must stop their plans of total world annihilation.

I’m going to breakdown the acting with the separate teams: GI Joe and Cobra.  First will be the GI Joes.  The Joes that are in this film are Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Duke (Channing Tatum), Flint (DJ Cotrona), Lady J (Adrianne Palicki), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) Jinx (Elodie Yung) and General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis).  In the roles of these GI Joes, you have distinct people with distinct skills for the team.  What separates this group from the original movie (even for some returning Joes) is that the portrayal of these characters is more ‘grounded’ in reality. With this, you can become attached to them, and feel for when they are attacked, and must prove their innocence to the world.  Some of the dialogue between the Joes (minus Snake Eyes, since he doesn’t talk) is comical and a little cheesy, but you feel the raw vigor of the banter, and let some of the cliché one-liners slide.  For the group that plays the Cobras, we have Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), Cobra Commander (Luke Bracy), Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson).  In their roles, they give us the common bad guys, with traditional ideas of ‘world domination’ through means of technology or some form of total control.  The cookie cutter model is obvious, but you still feel their vileness when they are on screen, and want them to fail and meet their end by the Joes.  Storm Shadow is the one that stands out from this group.  You realize that, even though he fights for Cobra, he isn’t a completely bad guy.  Him and Snake Eyes have a past, and their side story (explained quickly in the film) helps add depth to each of them.  This enhances these characters more, and provides and decent quality to the film and its traditional ‘action model’.  Outside of these two groups, everyone is one-dimensional and do nothing more than just become plot devices then actually people on screen.

The direction of this movie is a very ‘action oriented’ with the added flavor of the GI Joe lore.  Within this simple direction, you have in the script the tradition ‘good vs. evil’ treatment.  The only thing that is the different is that Cobra has the upper hand in the beginning.  The ‘good’ side has to fight from the shadows, using guerilla style tactics to prove their innocence, free the real president, and eventually ‘save the world’.  This is a repeated premise seen many times over, but the explanation isn’t ‘over the top’ and it stays upon a linear path.  Why this is good about this film is it allows the film to just play to the audience.  In playing to the audience, the director gives us a good mix of storytelling elements (with some convenient placement for the Joes to succeed) and thrilling action, that the film has an even pace through its first half of the film.  Through this, you don’t see anything you haven’t seen, but you enjoy what you’re watching.  The action scenes are shown with more realism, and you enjoy this aspect of the military tactics more than the ‘cartoonish’ version of the original.   As mentioned above, the side story of Storm Shadow/Snake Eyes parallels the main story, helping add some depth to the situation, but not hindering the progression of the linear tone.  Once everything threads to the climax of stopping Cobra, it is a combination of explosions, hand to hand combat and the eventual end to the bad guys and the ‘obvious’ happy conclusion you knew would be there.  The ending provides a ‘rebranding’ of the new Joes, but at the same time leaves room for a sequel.

The visuals within the film are very much along the ‘grounded in reality’ theme, as I have mentioned a few times already.  This compliments the simple story telling, characters and the GI Joe-esque world we are being provided on screen.  From the desert, Washington DC, and some city elements, you feel a part of the world as each side plays this chess game on a ‘world’ scale.  The score is very generic, emphasizing the action and dramatic moments when needed.

Overall, with some common action oriented scenes combined with the traditional ‘good vs. evil’ element, we get a decent popcorn flick.  It doesn’t try to get too serious, but doesn’t go overboard with the fantastical elements of the ‘GI Joe’ lore.  With some decent actors in the roles of the GI Joes and Cobra, you will be entertained from beginning till the end.  I’d recommend to watch this in the theater, and for any fan of GI Joe.

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